Posts by: Economic Development

Frisco, TX EDC Adds EB-5 Center to Economic Development Toolkit

The Frisco Texas International Development Center (FTIDC) has been approved to run an EB-5 Regional Center by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Frisco, TX EB-5 Regional Center

Frisco, TX EB-5 Regional Center (photo –

EB-5 is an “Immigrant Investor Pilot Program” that offers permanent residency in the United States to foreign investors in return for their investment into domestic projects and the resultant job creation.

In order to be eligible for this program and apply for green cards for themselves and their family, foreign investors are required to invest $1 million and create at least 10 permanent jobs.

An investment of $500,000 that creates 10 new jobs is also eligible if the project in question is in an area with high unemployment, otherwise known as a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).

The way it works is that the investment is made into projects through a designed EB-5 Center. The management of the EB-5 Center coordinates projects with local and foreign partners, and multiple foreign investors may put up money for the same project.

For instance, a $10 million project that creates 100 jobs may have 5-10 foreign investors supporting it through an EB-5 Center.

As of Oct 1, 2013, there were 325 such approved EB-5 Centers across the U.S., and they are for the most part run by private firms.

Frisco is one of the few cities has officially adopted the EB-5 Center as an economic development tool for attracting new investments and creating jobs. The City of Dallas already has its own EB-5 Center, and the City of Austin’s application is in the works.

Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said they like to think regionally in Frisco, and the FTIDC would only add to the positive trend of economic growth North Texas was experiencing.

Mayor Maso added that there was also the potential benefit of North Texas becoming a home to foreign investors as they put down roots on their path towards permanent residency and eventually U.S. citizenship.

In order to gain approval for the EB-5 Center, the Frisco Economic Development Corporation (FEDC) worked with Strasburger & Price, LLP, a Frisco-based firm that successfully guided Dallas during their own EB-5 application process.

James Gandy, president of the FEDC and the FTIDC, said they had one of the fastest growing economies in the U.S., and the quality of life, workforce and educational institutions makes the three-county region attractive for investors. He said the FTIDC will create even more opportunities for making investments in North Texas.

For more information about the EB-5 program, visit

Manufacturing Day Features 814 individual Events

Manufacturing Day 2013 is officially underway in the United States on Oct 4, 2013. This is the second annual Manufacturing Day celebration.

Manufacturing Day

Manufacturing Day (photo –

The event, or collection of 814 individual events, is designed to showcase the importance of manufacturing to the nation’s economy and highlight the high-skill and rewarding manufacturing jobs that are available.

Last year, more than 240 events were held for the inaugural Manufacturing Day in 37 states, with participation from more than 7,000 people.

This year, the number of events has more than tripled, and includes everything from plant tours and educational fairs to manufacturing technology summits. The events will continue throughout October, and some will even extend into November.

The panel of co-producers who provided support and centralized coordination for the nationwide array of simultaneous events include Industrial Strength (ISM), Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International (FMA), the Manufacturing Institute (MI), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

FMA President and CEO Ed Youdell said it was amazing to all the co-producers how quickly the manufacturing community has embraced this national event.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said that the Dept. of Commerce was proud to be a partner for Manufacturing Day, which she said aims to demonstrate the cutting-edge high-tech manufacturing industry careers that are available.

However, official federal participation is negligible this year because of the government shutdown. Even though NIST’s MEP was one of the producers, they are not involved in it today. NIST is closed and most of its affiliated websites, including, is not accessible.

The Science Channel is the media partner for the event. Discovery Communications and the Science Channel are commemorating the event with special programming and community events.

Science Channel is broadcasting a full-day “How It’s Made” marathon on October 4 as part of the Manufacturing Day celebrations. Discovery Communications has opened its doors for a public open house of its high-tech media production factory in Silver Spring, Maryland.

In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory is making a series of manufacturing project announcements on Oct 4, including projects by Flo-Tite Valve Controls and NGK Ceramics USA.

All put together, the Oct 4 Manufacturing Day project announcements in North Carolina will amount to more than $100 million in new investments and creation of 370 manufacturing jobs.

To learn more about individual Manufacturing Day events near you, visit

ADM Global HQ Incentives Bill Facing Veto in Illinois

On Sept 23, 2013, Decatur, Illinois-based Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE: ADM) announced that it was looking for a location for a new global headquarters and a customer center.

Archer Daniels Midland Company

Archer Daniels Midland Company (photo –

A bill was promptly introduced in the Illinois legislature four days later on Sept 27 offering incentives to ADM to ensure they choose a new location within Illinois.

At stake is the global headquarters of a Fortune 500 company, along with 200 high paying jobs and millions of dollars in investments.

The ADM incentives amendment (HB 0380), was introduced by State Rep. John Bradley in the Illinois House.

ADM executives then attended a hearing convened by the Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee earlier this week, and asked for $20 million in tax breaks over the next 20 years as an incentive to keep their global headquarters in Illinois.

The question of whether the Illinois Legislature will approve this bill on its merits still hasn’t been decided. However, that seems moot because it has now turned into a $100 billion matter involving the Illinois pension crisis.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said in an AP interview that he would veto the ADM incentives bill if the state legislation did not first resolve the pension crisis.

The state public pension fund’s unfunded liability is now more than $100 billion, and growing at a rate of $5 million per day. The Governor said it was one of the main factors that he hears from companies considering an expansion in Illinois or relocating to the state from elsewhere.

After a $168 billion pension reform bill failed to pass, the legislature is now considering a compromise pension reform plan that saves $138 billion over the next thirty years.

Chicago remains the prime contender for the company’s new global headquarters for now, assuming that the state legislature will approve the pension reform bill and the ADM incentives amendment, and the Governor won’t veto it.

But if the bill does not pass and ADM is not offered the incentives it is looking for, their attention will shift an equal distance to the other end of Illinois. Decatur lies in between Chicago and St. Louis, Missouri, and the latter is said to be actively angling for the ADM relocation and ready to step in and grab the agribusiness giant if Illinois throws it away.

Pharma Medica Research To Set up First U.S. Facility in St. Charles, MO

Toronto, Canada-based Pharma Medica Research, Inc. (PMRI) announced plans to set up their first U.S. manufacturing facility in St. Charles, Missouri.

Missouri Bioscience

Missouri Bioscience (photo –

The company will make a capital investment of $30.8 million, and is expected to create 320 new jobs.

Pharma Medica Research is a contract research organization that does R&D work and clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies.

Their head office is in Mississauga, Ontario and their Phase I clinical facility is in Toronto. The company is expanding their drug trial operations, and will expand into a space in St. Charles formerly used by a clinical research firm.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon met with the company’s executives in Chicago during the 2013 International BIO Convention.

Mohammed Bouhajib of Pharma Medica Research Inc. cited proximity to major pharmaceutical companies, the quality workforce and the favorable business climate as key factors that helped them decide to make the move to Missouri.

Not to mention more than $4 million in incentives offered by Missouri under the state’s Quality Jobs Program, which is a performance-based incentive provided based on fulfillment of job creation and investment commitments.

Bouhajib added that with the new research center in Missouri, the company would be able to compete in the global market and accommodate more clients.

St. Charles Mayor Sally Faith said they were delighted to have Pharma Medica Research join the city’s business community, and added that the company’s presence in the clinical research sector would further strengthen and diversify the city’s workforce and bolster economic development by creating jobs.

Joe Reagan, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, said the Chamber was pleased to partner with the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Missouri Partnership, and the City of St. Charles on this project.

Reagan added that bioscience was one of the industries in which the St. Louis region has an authentic strength.

Gov. Nixon likewise said that the substantial investment by Pharma Medica Research will further strengthen Missouri’s position as a bioscience leader.

Missouri has more than 4,000 companies in the bioscience, life sciences and agribusiness sectors.

United Technologies Prepares to Furlough 5000 Employees

As the federal government shutdown drags into Day 3, the effects are starting to spill over to the private sector.

Black Hawk Helicopters

Black Hawk Helicopters (photo –

On the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu (better known as Black Hawk Down), United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) announced that it would furlough 2,000 Sikorsky workers on Monday.

Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp. is the parent of Sikorsky Aircraft that makes the Black Hawk helicopters, among other things.

The employees being furloughed work at the company’s manufacturing facilities in Stratford, Connecticut; Troy, Alabama; and West Palm Beach, Florida.

UTC explained that the federal shutdown has resulted in the furlough of Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) inspectors, whose job it is to audit and approve manufacturing operations  at a defense contractor’s facility.

Without the DCMA inspectors present, these manufacturing units producing defense items for the military cannot continue their work.

If the shutdown continues into next week, UTC said the furloughs would spread to other UTC group companies such as Pratt & Whitney and UTC Aerospace Systems. The total number of furloughed employees will double to 4,000 if the shutdown continues past Monday.

If the shutdown continues into next month, UTC expects to have to furlough another 1,000 workers, for a total of 5,000.

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy said it was unconscionable that so many working families would be unfairly put in this situation.

He called upon Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution that funds the government, keeps people at work, and won’t threaten to undo all the progress towards economic recovery that has been made.

It’s not just about this one company or just the defense sector, because government contractors everywhere are feeling the squeeze. If the shutdown continues into next week, it could affect the jobs of around 300,000 existing employees working with government contractors.

On top of that, it’s also putting a damper on new hiring. The National Association of Government Contractors (NAGC) surveyed its members on Oct 1, asking about the impact of the shutdown on their business.

The results, based on survey responses by 925 government contractors, show that 29 percent of contractors are delaying planned hires. A full 58 percent said the shutdown will have a negative effect on their business.

Organic Transit Opens Vehicle Production Facility in San Jose, CA

Durham, North Carolina-based Organic Transit announced that it is expanding its operations in Durham to a bigger facility, and also opening a new production facility to assemble their ELF pedal plus electric vehicle in San Jose, California.

Organic Transit's ELF at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose, CA

Organic Transit’s ELF at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose, CA (photo –

Organic Transit was launched in 2011, and got its initial boost using a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign through which it got $225,789 and 51 orders to start producing the ELF.

The company has since sold more than 200 vehicles through their website.

The three-wheel ELF is technically and legally a bicycle which can be driven on bike paths and sidewalks, and does not need a driving license.

You may use the pedals to generate electricity, but it also has solar panels for charging the battery, which has a 30-mile range. The vehicle is currently priced at $5,000.

Every ELF vehicle is made of recycled and recyclable material, gives the equivalent of 1,800 mpg, and reduces Co2 emissions by as much as six tons per year.

Their old headquarters in Durham is located in a retail furniture store which the company has now outgrown.

The new location they are moving into in downtown Durham is bigger at 7,500 square feet, and Organic Transit is planning to make use of sustainable design for the building renovations.

Rob Cotter, founder and CEO of Organic Transit, said they were planning to use recycled and upcycled material for the buildout, and the building was being renovated to include LED lighting and skylights, green walls, bee hives and edible gardens.

The second part of the announcement is that Organic Transit has opened a new manufacturing facility in San Jose, CA in partnership with non-profit Good Karma Bikes (GKB).

GKB provides low-income and homeless people with bicycles so that they get the freedom and benefits of being able to travel and move around easily. GKB also provides those interested with training on how to be a bicycle mechanic. It’s actually a proper course with certification that helps those trained in getting jobs.

Organic Transit is leasing space from GKB in San Jose. The company hopes to produce more vehicles per day with the establishment of the new production space in San Jose.

Cotter says interest in the ELF has been huge on the West Coast, and their partnership with GKB will help the company service customers in California and other western states.

Bilstein Group to Establish Cold Rolled Steel Mill in Bowling Green, KY

German automotive supplier Bilstein Group announced plans to establish a cold rolled steel mill in the Kentucky Transpark north of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Bilstein cold rolled steel mill

Bilstein cold rolled steel mill (photo –

The 150,000-square-foot, $120 million project will create 90 new jobs in Bowling Green and Warren County.

The steel they produce is primarily meant for use by automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. Cold rolled steel is used for everything from clutches and transmissions to seat structure and safety parts.

This announcement follows Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s economic development trip to Europe, which included a visit to Bilstein Group’s facilities in Germany.

Marc T. Oehler, CEO and partner of Bilstein Group, said they were absolutely certain that Bowling Green was the perfect spot for their new cold rolling mill, slitting operations and advanced annealing furnaces.

Oehler said that being close to their customers and suppliers was critical to their decision, as was being within reach from any place in America or Europe.

Not to mention the fact that Kentucky is offering a generous package of incentives. Bilstein Cold Rolled Steel LP has been approved by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) for up to $3.5 million in tax incentives under the Kentucky Business Investment program.

Bilstein will also get another $1.4 million in the form of sales and use tax refunds on construction costs and equipment purchase. This second incentive is being provided under the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act.

Thirdly, Bilstein supplier Horizon Steel Co. has been approved for $1.5 million in incentives to help them set up a $5 million slitting facility with 30 new jobs in leased space within the new Bilstein mill.

Horizon Steel has existing manufacturing facilities in Wheeling, Illinois and Shelby Township, Michigan.

Bowling Green Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said the addition of globally known automotive suppliers such as Bilstein truly makes South Central Kentucky an automotive industry hub.

Gov. Beshear likewise said that the fact that world-class companies such as Bilstein are continuing to choose Kentucky as the location for their global operations speaks volumes for the workforce quality and pro-business environment.

Intermodal Transportation Authority Chairman Gary Dillard it was a mutually beneficial relationship – they provide Bilstein with unrivaled transportation logistics and infrastructure, and the region is allowed to be a part of Bilstein’s continued success through investments in the Kentucky Transpark.

York County, SC Attracts German Company Using Speculative Manufacturing Space

Wuppertal, Germany-based adhesive and insulation tape manufacturer Coroplast Tape Corporation announced plans to set up their first manufacturing plant in the U.S. in York County, South Carolina.

York County Spec Building in Rock Hill, SC

York County Spec Building in Rock Hill, SC (photo –

The company will spend $12 million to establish the facility in the York County “Spec” Building at the Antrim Business Park in Rock Hill, SC.

The project, which is expected to create 150 new jobs, was first announced in July when it was reported in the news that Coroplast was negotiating to purchase the 40,000-square-foot spec building shell.

Coroplast was represented by site location consultants Development Advisors LLC, who did an extensive search before settling on the aforementioned site in Rock Hill, SC.

Marcus Söhngen, president of Coroplast Tape Corp., said South Carolina provides them with an excellent business environment and the workforce talent the company needs to be successful. He said they appreciated all the support provided by local and state officials to bring the project to fruition.

The South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits for Coroplast.

The shell building in question was built in 2012 after the York County Economic Development Board teamed up with Rock Hill developer Tuttle Co. to build the $1.2 million structure in the hopes of attracting new businesses to buy or lease the space.

To make the spec building more attractive to prospective buyers or tenants, the York County Electric Cooperative throw in $1 million worth of utility tax credit funds, and another $200,000 came from Comporium Communications.

Dr. Britt Blackwell, chairman of the York County Council, said this announcement was the culmination of several years of work done by the county to make use of grant funding from York Electric Cooperative and Comporium Communications and provide much-needed speculative manufacturing space in the region.

Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols said the spec building investment in York County had proved to be a success with Coroplast’s addition and the new job opportunities for the community’s residents.

Apart from the purchase cost, Coroplast will be spending on finishing the floor and interiors, and on purchasing equipment for the production facility.

York County is planning to use the sale proceeds to build another spec building in the East York Industrial Park. Coroplast will begin hiring later this year, and the facility is expected to be operational by the second quarter of 2014.

Personal Capital Opens New Denver Office

San Francisco, California-based financial services and software company Personal Capital announced the opening of a new advisory hub in Denver, Colorado.

Personal Capital office opening in Denver

Personal Capital office opening in Denver (Photo – Denver Mayor’s Office)

The new office in Denver will be the operations center for the company’s financial advisory team.

Personal Capital offers a free financial application that allows users to integrate and manage all their financial accounts from a single dashboard, which can be accessed on the web, or through a mobile app for smartphones and tablets.

The company’s main source of income is through advisory services offered to high net-worth individuals. Personal Capital currently has more than 250,000 users of its free software, and manages more than $150 million in custom portfolios for hundreds of clients.

Out of the company’s 75 existing employees, 20 are financial advisors. Personal Capital expects their number of financial advisors in the Denver office to grow to 100 over the next two years.

The company is headquartered in Redwood City, CA and the rest of its staff is located in San Francisco, which will continue to retain their technology development division.

Denver was competing for this advisory hub project with Redwood City.

Personal Capital CEO Bill Harris said they were delighted to be executing on long-term expansion plans with the new Denver office, which he said they chose as the site of their advisory hub mainly because of the great access to financial talent.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade explained in more detail that Personal Capital selected Denver because:-

– Colorado has the highest concentration of CFPs in the nation, and offers a great talent pool for a financial services advisory firm.

– The time zone in Denver in between the east and west coasts allows the company to offer convenient business hours to clients all over the country. The location is also easily accessible from the Personal Capital headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Colorado’s pro-business environment and the tax credits offered to Personal Capital as incentives for creating jobs.

The company requested and has been approved for Job Growth Incentive Tax Credits worth $1,595,358, in return for creating 213 full-time jobs with average annual wages of $67,048. This is 110 percent of the prevailing average annual wage in Denver County.

Personal Capital will have to create and maintain at least 20 full-time jobs before any tax credits are issued.

Kalahari Resorts Breaks Ground On Resort Complex in Pennsylvania

Kalahari Resorts broke ground on its first east coast resort at Pocono Manor in Monroe County, Pennsylvania.

PA Gov. Corbett at Kalahari Resorts groundbreaking

PA Gov. Corbett at Kalahari Resorts groundbreaking (photo – Governor’s Office)

The 150-acre Kalahari Resorts Pocono Mountains is a multi-phase project that is ultimately expected to create 1,500 jobs when it is completed.

Around 1,200 construction jobs are expected to be created while the resort is being built. The resort is scheduled to open in 2015, and will create 700 full-time and part-time jobs in its first year of operation.

The $230 million first phase includes a 457-room hotel, a 100,000-square-foot indoor waterpark and a seasonal outdoor waterpark, in addition to a convention center, family entertainment center, three restaurants and retail space.

The $137 million second phase will double the number of hotel rooms and the size of the indoor waterpark.

An economic impact study of the project by Hotel and Leisure Advisors showed an $18 million impact on the local economy.

Kalahari Resorts already has two similar African-themed resorts with large waterparks in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin and Sandusky, Ohio.

The project is being assisted through a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) District created by Tobyhanna Township and supported by other local taxing authorities including Monroe County and the Pocono Mountain School District.

Under the TIF District, all the property taxes from this first phase of the development will go towards debt payments on a $26 million bond issue that was used to finance off-site infrastructure improvements, fees and related expenses associated with the project.

The taxes from the second phase are not a part of the TIF District, and will go directly to the taxing authorities.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said that the decision by Kalahari to select Poconos as the location for its first east coast resort is a testament to the area’s draw as one of the country’s premiere vacation destinations.

When the project was first announced back in January, Todd Nelson, owner and president of Kalahari Resorts, said they were looking forward to continue working with members of the Poconos community as Kalahari strives to bring an unmatched entertainment experience and jobs to the region.

The $2.1 billion Pocono Mountains tourism industry already supports more than 34,000 jobs. Overall, the tourism industry in Pennsylvania is the state’s second largest industry, employing 300,000 people and generating $3.8 billion in annual local and state tax revenues.

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